Direct Mail: Finding Lift in Your Data
Every direct mail campaign—whether it's a solicitation letter seeking new customers, offers for existing customers or a catalog full of products—should be managed for maximum response. However, in the rush to meet deadlines with limited resources, many organizations repeatedly choose to run the same campaigns knowing they're not getting the best response.
Here's how to break those ruts by applying data-driven processes to your campaigns.
The Real Baseline
Start with some rules of engagement for data-driven campaigns. There aren't many, but they are important.
1. Know where you are. In most organizations the assumption is, because there are marketing plans and agreed goals, everyone knows the baseline for response rates on current campaigns. In many cases, that assumption is not supported with fact. To know where you are, you must be able to answer the following questions:
• How many individuals are you trying to communicate with?
• How many individuals have responded in some way to each of the last three campaigns?
• Did each of the last three campaigns grow in response rate?
2. Know where you are trying to go. Oddly, many companies embark on direct mail campaigns without defining an engagement goal. In some companies, the direct mail campaign is even a legacy event—it's done because it has always been done.
To be effective, a direct mail campaign must have a real goal that identifies engagement expectations by customer segment, anticipated response rates, target revenue goals and a means for tracking each of the anticipated data points. The basic questions are:
• What is the revenue goal for the campaign? You might express it as revenue per mail address, revenue per neighborhood or region or revenue by type of customer. But you need a goal.
• What are your target customer profiles? Are you going after your usual suspects, or looking carefully at customer spending patterns? Can you identify your top spenders and your non-spenders? Start with three segments: 1) customers who do not spend regularly or in high enough dollar amounts, 2) customers who spend regularly and in high dollar amounts, and 3) everyone else.
Pat McGrew, M-EDP, CMP is the Director and Evangelist for the Production Workflow Service at InfoTrends. As an analyst and industry educator, McGrew works with InfoTrends customers and its clients to promote workflow effectiveness. She also has a background in data-driven customer communication, and production printing with offset, inkjet, and toner. Co-author of eight industry books, editor of "A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge," and regular writer in the industry trade press, McGrew won the 2014 #GirlsWhoPrint Girlie Award for her dedication to education and communication in the industry, and the 2016 Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement Award from Xplor International. Find Pat on Twitter as @PatMcGrew and LinkedIn.